INTERVIEW – Doubling agri-exports would be too challenging, says FIEO 

The government’s target of doubling agriculture exports from the current base of a little over $30 billion by 2022 would not be easy to achieve because there were a host of inherent challenges that will make it difficult to push agriculture exports to a quantum leap growth trajectory in the near- to medium-term. said Ajay Sahai, Director General and CEO of Federation of Indian Exports’ Organisation (FIEO),  .

“If you are talking about taking Indian agri export from $30 billion to $60 billion at a time when agriculture prices are weakening in the global market, it would be a huge challenge. India is not a major player in agri exports. Even if we look at our own exports profile, the share of agri-exports is less than 10 percent of total exports,” he told in an interview.

India’s total annual exports are presently in the range of over $300 billion.

Earlier in December, the government had unveiled a dedicated agri-export policy for the first time, which envisages doubling of agri-exports by 2022 that coincides with the larger objective of doubling farmers’ income in the next 3-4 years.

The policy provisions for creation of agri export clusters at the strategic locations across the country thus paving the way for providing easy global market access to Indian farm produce.

But according to Sahai, the inherent challenges are too grave to be surmounted so rapidly.

“We have  some major issues – land pooling, back end infrastructure like cold chain, refer vans, pack houses, etc. These components will have to be added quickly. We have huge challenges in the farm to ports logistics,” he added.

Sahai, however, pointed out that in some of the categories like marine products and meat exports,

India has done well in the recent past (in marine products India has become the global leader with $7 billion annual exports) and these verticals can be further harnessed alongwith dairy products. The policy meanwhile also underlines no restriction on exports of processed and organic food items under any circumstances.

In the past, the government has often responded to any mismatch in demand and supply equation by imposing export restrictions. “It takes time to develop markets across the globe. If you want to become a reliable supplier to the global market, you will have to strictly adhere to no export restriction strategy,” he said.

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